GREEN BAY, Wis. — The New England Patriots already were down to their second-string quarterback entering Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers.
By the end of the first quarter at Lambeau Field, they were down to their third.
Backup Brian Hoyer was removed from the game and evaluated for a head injury after taking a sack during the Patriots’ second possession. Shortly thereafter, the team ruled him out for the remainder of the game.
Hoyer was starting in place of Mac Jones, who was inactive with a high ankle sprain.
Fourth-round rookie Bailey Zappe replaced Hoyer at the start of New England’s third drive. It was the first regular-season NFL appearance for the Western Kentucky product, who was a healthy scratch for the Patriots’ first three games.
The Patriots led 3-0 when Zappe entered. Hoyer opened the game — his first start in two years — by leading a 10-play, 56-yard drive that produced a 37-yard Nick Folk field goal. The 36-year-old completed 5 of 6 passes for 37 yards before his injury, including a 27-yarder to Nelson Agholor.
Zappe set single-season FBS records for touchdowns (62) and passing yards (5,967) last season, surpassing marks previously held by Joe Burrow and B.J. Symons, respectively. The 23-year-old saw the most action of any Patriots passer during his rookie preseason, completing 63.4% of his passes for 462 yards (6.5 per attempt) and one touchdown with three interceptions and a passer rating of 69.1.
“He’s done a really good job, mentally and physically, of progressing from the spring when we got him,” quarterbacks coach Joe Judge said this week. “He’s very, very engaged. … In terms of when he gets in the game, you know, we’ll see. I’m not gonna speak for anybody else, but I like the way he’s worked and preparing, and the progress he’s making.”
It’s unclear who the Patriots have tabbed as their emergency backup QB should Zappe suffer an injury, as well. Wide receiver Jakobi Meyers has prior quarterbacking experience, but he also is inactive as he recovers from a knee injury.